The UFC heads to Mexico for the very first time tonight to present their UFC 180 card. The card will take place in the historic Arena Mexico in Mexico City, and features an interim heavyweight title fight in the main event with Mark Hunt stepping up on short notice to fight Fabricio Werdum.
The preliminary card will focus on the first version of The Ultimate Fighter to take place in Latin America. The prelims will kick off with two bouts on Fight Pass, then moves over to Fox Sports 1 for four more fights. The Fight Pass portion starts at 7pm ET/4pm PT, while the FS1 portion starts at 8pm ET/5pm PT.
The two featured bouts of the prelims are the TUF Latin America finals, with Alejandro Perez meeting Jose Quinonez in the bantamweight final and Yair Rodriguez battling with Leonardo Morales in the featherweight final.
We’ll cover all the preliminary card action in this post. Check out David Castillo’s preview of the prelims if you’d like to know a little more about the fighters.
Marco Beltran vs. Marlon Vera
Round 1 – Beltran with an early head kick attempt. Vera threw one in return. Beltran moved forward and threw some knees in the clinch against the cage. Vera spun around and took Beltran’s back. Beltran scored with three back elbows, then spun away. Vera looked for a guillotine and was slammed to the ground by Beltran. Vera looked for a triangle which led Beltran to briefly back out, but he jumped back into Vera’s guard. They stalled out for a while until Vera went for another triangle. Beltran escaped but Vera took top position. Vera backed out and landed an axe kick…right to the cojones. That looked really painful, but Beltran got up fairly quickly. The fight continued on the feet until the horn. 10-9 Beltran.
Round 2 – Leg kick from Beltran, and a front kick. Vera partially caught the kick and slammed Beltran to the mat. Beltran immediately went for a guillotine but Vera popped out. Vera quickly passed to mount. Beltran used the cage to kick out but Vera secured his back and wrapped up a body triangle. Vera looked for a choke but Beltran defended. Until he didn’t. It looked like he had an arm underneath the chin but Beltran pulled it off. Same sequence again. Vera rolled back to mount but got reversed with two minutes to go. Beltran with a few punches from the top. He backed out to his feet and kicked the legs a few times. He went to jump back into guard but Vera looked for a heel hook. Beltran escaped and jumped right into mount. Hard elbows. Very hard to score, take of two rounds. I’ll go 10-9 Vera for coming closer to finishing the fight.
Round 3 – Combo from Beltran, Vera responded with a body kick. Front kick from Vera but he ate a right. Beltran charged forward and they clinched up. Vera with a knee but he slipped and Beltran took top position against the cage. Vera got back to his feet and landed a knee and left hook. Knee to the body and Vera took top position. Big elbow. Vera with big punches and Beltran looked hurt. Beltran looked to reverse position but Vera kept the spot and locked up a D’Arce choke. He lost it, but continued to drop elbows. Beltran fired back with elbows from the bottom. Good fight. 10-9 and 29-28 Vera, but the second was very close. Could go either way.
Marco Beltran defeats Marlon Vera by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Henry Briones vs. Guido Cannetti
Round 1 – Briones’ nickname is Bure, after Pavel Bure. He’s my new favorite fighter, win or lose. Hard inside leg kick from Briones. Cannetti responds with a body kick, then two hard front kicks. Nice hesitation to land a right hook from Briones, but Cannetti took him down. Briones popped up and took his back, but Cannetti re-established top position. Hard elbows. Briones is up, and immediately lands a huge uppercut. They’re both smiling, and this is fact-based if a bit sloppy. Cannetti with two big knees and a left hook. Side kick to the knee. More knees from both. Big body kick from Cannetti. Briones was hurt and Cannettti started to beat him up. Another knee to the body. Head kick from Cannetti. Briones is game though. More body kicks from Cannetti. 10-9 Cannetti.
Round 2 – Kicks to the body and legs from Cannetti. Both men land hard punches and Cannetti clinches up. Briones pushed him off. Cannetti with his hands down, loading up big shots. Briones slipped one and dropped Cannetti with a huge uppercut! That was awesome. He pounded away for a while and couldn’t get the finish so he switched to a choke and got a quick tap.
Henry Briones defeats Guido Cannetti by submission (rear naked choke), 1:44, round 2
Gabriel Benitez vs. Humberto Brown
Round 1 – Straight left scores for Benitez. Inside leg kicks from both. Brown stepped in and scooped up Benitez to slam him. He waited so long that Benitez locked up a guillotine. Brown fought it for almost a minute before escaping. Benitez went for another one but Brown escaped again. Brown worked from top position with a few punches. Benitez looked for a triangle but ate some hammerfists. They finally got up and Benitez landed a big knee. Brown landed low with a knee and there was a brief delay. Upon the restart Benitez landed a knee and went for, guess what? A guillotine. Brown got out yet again. 10-9 Benitez.
Round 2 – Benitez opens with a combo. Hard right hook from Brown as he ate a leg kick. Another low shot from Brown, and he Mario Yamasaki took a point away. Brown looked for a takedown but couldn’t get it despite grinding away against the cage for a while. Yamasaki eventually restarted them in the center. Brown with a right and went for the takedown again. And couldn’t get it again. Bit of a nothing round. 9-9.
Round 3 – Brown immediately went for a takedown and didn’t look to be in any danger, but Benitez had a choke on him and put him right to sleep! That was crazy. It looked like a modified guillotine? Very impressive. And smart people tell me it was indeed a guillotine.
Gabriel Benitez defeats Humberto Brown by submission (guillotine), :30 of round 3
Jessica Eye vs. Leslie Smith
Round 1 – Eye started fast with combos and a gaggle of kicks. Three punch combo, all of which connected for Eye. She has landed at least 20 strikes in the first 45 seconds. Smith fired back with some hard shots and a head kick though. Hard body shot from Eye. Jessica has a big speed advantage here and she’s making the most of it early. Right hook from Smith landed. Nice jab from Eye. They’ve kept up the frenetic pace for the whole round. Smith’s ear was bleeding. Eye keeps tagging her with the right and inside leg kicks. 10-9 Eye.
Round 2 – The start of the round was delayed due to Smith’s ear. The replay showed that her cauliflower just…exploded. Gross. Eye went right back to the volume boxing when the round got underway. After a minute of action they stopped to check the ear again, and it’s separated from her head. Seriously. Smith yelled in English and Spanish that she wanted to continue, but the doctor didn’t agree and Herb Dean waived off the fight. Eye took out the ear.
Jessica Eye defeats Leslie Smith by TKO (doctor stoppage), 1:20, round 2
Alejandro Perez vs. Jose Quinonez
Round 1 – Kicks from both men to start. Perez looked for a takedown but Quinonez pushed him to the mat. Quinonez took his back but Perez escaped. Quinonez caught a kick and took it to the ground. Perez got up quickly but ate a knee. Perez with some inside leg kicks. Perez put together a nice combo and kept kicking the legs. Hard knee to the body from Quinonez, but Perez clubbed him with a left hook that wobbled him a bit at the bell. 10-9 Perez.
Round 2 – Nice left from Perez early. Nice combo in return from Quinonez after a Perez leg kick. Perez tripped Quinonez with a kick and charged in, but he couldn’t get anything going in the clinch. Both men landed hard punches to the grill. Quinonez shot in for a takedown but was rebuffed. Quinonez closed the distance and landed two big shots that made Perez literally run away. Quinonez chased him and it’s a track meet now. Head kick from Quinonez. Solid right from Perez. Close round, I’ll lean Quinonez 10-9.
Round 3 – Both men are throwing with everything they have early in the third. Perez got the best of it, then landed a suplex for good measure. He went for a choke but Quinonez escaped. Big hammerfist from Quinonez in side control. Frenetic action. Perez tried to escape but only got as far as regaining full guard. Arm triangle attempt from Quinonez. The first one didn’t work but he tried again. That didn’t work either so he headbutted him. Just a straight headbutt right to the nose. John McCarthy stepped in immediately, and the doctor came in to check Perez’s nose. The doctor tried to say it wasn’t intentional, but McCarthy actually said “I don’t give a sh**t what he says” and deducted TWO points. He just essentially handed Perez the fight. They restarted on the feet. Quinonez got a takedown but couldn’t do much with it for the rest of the fight. Quinonez won the round but it’d be scored 9-8 Perez. That gives him a 28-27 win on my card.
Alejandro Perez defeats Jose Quinonez by decision (29-26, 29-26, 28-27)
Leonardo Morales vs. Yair Rodriguez
Round 1 – Body kick from Morales. Rodriguez clinched up, got a takedown and moved right into mount. Morales rolled over but Rodriguez retained full back control. He couldn’t get much going there so he rolled over for an armbar. Morales pulled out but Rodriguez went for a heel hook. Yamasaki jumped in and warned Rodriguez about something and stood them up. Apparently it was because of a fence grab. Kicks from Morales, and landed a clean left that wobbled Rodriguez. He came back with a side kick and a spinning back fist though. 10-9 Rodriguez.
Round 2 – After some hard kicks from Morales, Rodriguez looked for a takedown. Morales fought it off nicely though. Yair shot in after throwing a side kick and got the takedown. Rodriguez looked for a heel hook and they stalled out in that spot. Rodriguez deftly transitioned to an armbar attempt. Morales finally got free of Rodriguez and kicked his legs a bit with Yair on his back. Rodriguez scored with a killer upkick and went for another heel hook at the horn. 10-9 Rodriguez.
Round 3 – Morales with a flying knee right to the cojones. Ouch. Morales landed some body kicks after the restart, and Rodriguez responded by charging in with punches. And now Rodriguez kicked Morales in the junk. Rodriguez clinched up after the latest restart and was promptly hip-tossed by Morales. Rodriguez ended up with a cut due to an unintentional headbutt, but that didn’t stop him from throwing wheel kicks and other flashy stuff. Flying knee and right hook from Rodriguez. Hard body kick from Morales. Morales with three big shots right before the horn. 10-9 Morales, but 29-28 Rodriguez in my books.
Yair Rodriguez defeats Alejandro Perez by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
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